LSU opened spring practice Saturday. Reporters were allowed to watch about 30 minutes of drills, mostly positional groupings.
What’d we learn? Here are some nuggets and there’s video above.
Brandon Harris rifles a pass to John Diarse.
Please take these with a grain of salt. A small grain. It’s A) the first day of spring, B) it’s spring, C) these notes were taken quickly, D) did we mention it’s spring?
First off, the quarterbacks. The rotation, in at least the two drills we watched, went like this (in this drill, two QBs were throwing at the same time): Anthony Jennings and Hayden Rettig, Brandon Harris and Brad Kragthorpe. They continuously rotated.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s voiced filled the practice fields during these drills. He stressed the little things. The QBs were particularly working on 9 routes. “If we can’t throw a nine …” Cameron said trailing off. They then worked on hitches, which you see in the video.
Les Miles during Day of spring drills.
So LSU lost its top two receivers. The wideout rotation during drills (again, two at a time): Travin Dural and John Diarse, Quantavius Leslie and Kevin Spears and Avery Peterson was also in that second group mix at times. Peterson seems healthy. He broke his ankle in the fall and missed last season. According to reports, backup QB Rob Bolden was working with receivers.
Right guard Trai Turner left and it appears that senior Evan Washington was working with the first group.
Lastly, as far as personnel is concerned, the defensive backs: At corner Tre’Davious White and Jalen Collins were running with what appeared to be the first group. At safety was Jalen Mills and Ronald Martin. The second group: CBs Kavahra Holmes and Rashard Robinson and safeties Rickey Jefferson and Dwayne Thomas.
John Curtis receiver Malachi Dupre, a signee, watched practice.
Jermauria Rasco and Jordan Allen, defensive ends, were not present. Corey Thompson was also not in drills, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury late last year and is out for the spring.
Wearing green non-contact jerseys: LB Lamar Louis and OL Andy Dodd.
We get to speak with coach Les Miles at 3:15. Return to the blog for nuggets from his press conference.
According to Rivals.com, Lamar Louis was working at the No. 1 spot at WLB, where the departure of Lamin Barrow left a void.
This was an easy one to pick. The quarterback battle will be in the spotlight for spring and, likely, fall practice. The frontrunners are sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris. Jennings has the upper hander heading into the competition.
Trai Turner’s surprising departure creates this void. Fehoko Fanaika, a senior who transferred last season from a California junior college, seems to be the favorite, but a host of players could be involved, including backup center Ethan Pocic.
Travin Dural is the top returner at receiver. You remember this catch, right? (Travis Spradling | The Advocate)
LSU loses a whopping 71 percent of its receiving yards from 2013. Travin Dural is the top returner, but the Tigers need to find several more options. Quantavius Leslie and John Diarse are possibilities for the spring. In the fall, LSU’s star-studded freshmen will arrive.
This may be the most uncertain spot on the entire team. LSU lost starter Craig Loston and no one ever really established themselves at the other safety position. Jalen Mills moves from cornerback to safety and freshman Ed Paris, an early enrollee, enters the mix.
Similar to receiver, the Tigers lost their top two at this position early to the NFL Draft. Replacements for Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson will likely be former reserves Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas, but does anyone else emerge?
Let’s first start with former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who appeared on SportsCenter on Friday morning and said he will in fact throw during LSU’s pro day April 9, something that was expected. Mettenberger said his recovery from January knee surgery (he tore his ACL and MCL) continues to go on as scheduled.
Now for some much more interesting news.
The decision on whether the SEC will switch to a nine-game conference schedule (the league currently plays eight) will be made at or before the league’s spring meetings in Destin in May, according to this story on AL.com detailing the eight-verse-nine debate. According to the story, a majority of SEC ADs (eight) favor an eight-game schedule and that include LSU’s Joe Alleva.
Joe Alleva favors an eight-game SEC schedule. (Bill Feig | The Advocate)
The story also touched on the SEC cross-divisional permanent opponent, something in which some schools want to do away with. It’s a touchy subject. Historic rivalries like Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee are at the heart of the matter. Alleva, quoted throughout the story, said this about cross-divisional permanent opponents (LSU’s is Florida):
“If I’m at a school with a permanent opponent that I like and it’s easier than playing Alabama, LSU or Auburn, why would I want to change? You vote for your best interests, which is contrary to what this league usually does. Everybody is supposed to vote for the best interests of the league. I think we’ll probably keep permanent opponents because nobody will have the guts to change it.”
Also in the story, Alleva said LSU will always try to play a Big 12 or ACC school each season, and in some years may play two of them. He uses this as one of the reasons the league should stick to an eight game schedule.
“If you combine that with eight games in our league, I’m not afraid of strength of schedule. I’m not worried about other schools playing nine games in their league. In some leagues, the bottom half of their league is cupcakes. So big deal you’re playing nine. You’re playing a cupcake anyway.”
Meanwhile, Texas A&M AD Eric Hyman “biggest desire,” the story says, is to get Texas A&M to play LSU in the final week every year, as they will in 2014 on Thanksgiving.
Moving away from SEC scheduling and on to actual football …
LSU sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings posted a tweet about the start of spring football practice Friday morning, saying that “it’s time to separate from the pack.” The only proof of the tweet is from our retweet. Jennings deleted the tweet about 90 seconds after posting it. Jennings will compete for the starting quarterback job with a host of players, namely freshman Brandon Harris. It’s expected to be a tight battle. The tweet:
#LSU QB. RT @JENNINGSWINNING: It's almost that time. Spring Football. Time to separate from the pack.
Christian LaCouture is the favorite to take over as LSU’s starting defensive tackle. (Travis Spradling | The Advocate)
Anthony Johnson’s backup last season, LaCouture played more than any No. 2 on the defensive front. He’s a former four-star prospect from Nebraska who enrolled early last season and will be heading into his second spring practice.
Terrence Magee, senior RB
The forgotten man, right? Everyone’s pointing to the massive loss of running back Jeremy Hill and the signing of the nation’s No. 1 recruit, St. Augustine tailback Leonard Fournette. But, hey, there’s Magee, who had 626 yards last season. That’s an average of 7.2 a pop.
Anthony Jennings, sophomore QB
The tall, speedster might be in the spotlight this spring more than any other. He finished the season having two see-saw games in replacement of Zach Mettenberger: a 99-yard, game-winning drive against Arkansas and then a 7-for-19 outing in the Outback Bowl.
Kendell Beckwith, sophomore LB
Kendell Beckwith, Les Miles said, will play linebacker. (Travis Spradling | The Advocate)
For a guy with so much hype entering last season, we saw little of Beckwith. His time was split between defensive end and outside linebacker, but he’s been moved full-time to linebacker, a unit that needs some help from the 6-3, 245-pound specimen.
Ed Paris, freshman S
An early enrollee, Paris enters as a blue-chip prospect from Texas who can help an uncertain area. Paris, ranked as the No. 3 safety in the nation, can get a leg up on what’s expected to be a hot competition in the fall at safety.
Les Miles will begin his 10th spring practice at LSU. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)
LSU has moved the start of spring football practice from Friday to Saturday.
LSU coach Les Miles is scheduled to speak at the memorial service for former West Monroe coach Doug Shows on Friday. Also, new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ father passed away and funeral services were this week.
The Tigers were set to have the first of 15 spring practice dates Friday. The spring game is set for April 5. A time has not been announced.
LSU begins spring practice Friday. Two days before the start of drills, we give you five bold predictions here on the blog.
Brandon Harris is just a freshman. (Bill Feig | The Advocate)
1. Harris leads QB battle
Brandon Harris, a true freshman from Bossier City who enrolled early, overtakes favorite Anthony Jennings by the end of spring and exits drills as the top dog in the competition to replace Zach Mettenberger. It’s not unthinkable. Harris was ranked as the third-best dual threat QB in the nation coming out of Parkway this past year. He’s a four-star prospect who most believe will give Jennings stiff competition.
2. O-line spot stolen
A starting offensive lineman from last season will have his spot stolen by the time spring ends. This is bold, indeed, seeing that LSU’s offensive line returns four starters from a solid 2013 group. The Tigers will have to replace right guard Trai Turner, but, whether through injury or poor play, another lineman will slip from the No. 1 ranks. New O-line coach Jeff Grimes has said that all five positions are open. He wants a fresh start.
3. Robinson a starting cornerback
Rashard Robinson is poised to win a starting CB gig. (Bill Feig | The Advocate)
Sophomore Rashard Robinson emerges as LSU’s starting cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White. This isn’t as risky as you’d probably like. Robinson started two of the last three games last season and played in all but one game in 2013. He displayed solid coverage skills and seems to be a candidate to replace Jalen Mills opposite White. Mills is likely moving to safety.
4. Dural gets out-shined
LSU’s top returning receiver, Travin Dural doesn’t surface at the spring’s end as the Tigers No. 1 wideout. Dural is the presumptive No. 1 at the position heading into spring practice. But there are others, of course. Senior Quantavius Leslie, a junior college transfer last season from Georgia, is 6-4, 175. Redshirt freshman John Diarse could be in the mix too. This doesn’t count the highly rated true freshman who’ll join in the fall.
5. Offense out-duels the D
LSU’s offense dominates its more experienced defense during practice. This would certainly qualify as a bold prediction. LSU’s offense enters spring practice having lost its top running back, Nos. 1 and 2 receiver and starting quarterback. Aside from the offensive line, the Tigers are unproven across the board. The defense had some key losses, too, but it would seem to have an edge on Cam Cameron’s unit.